Do You Want To Hire Performing Monkeys?

The more I look at template interviewing, the more I have to ask myself if the goal is to hire  performing monkeys.  I have to ask why companies insist on the behavioral interview questions.

If you look at any job site you will page after page justifying these template interviews and the need to ask the same stupid questions.  Companies seem to accept the need to do this kind of interview without considering or questioning the consequences.  Add to that the need to run complicated and detailed tests to “evaluate” candidates.  Supposedly all of this is to find the “best candidates.”

The best at what though.  When you have a selection process you have to remember what you are selecting for.  It’s pretty obvious that the interview can be gamed.  Just look at the video above.  And the stack of other videos on the right side all telling candidates how to perform.  Apparently the best performance wins.  Great, you now have a staff of performing monkeys.  The question I have is; are performing monkeys the staff you need?

After all the same interview questions have been around forever.  So long that it’s easy to find guides on how to manipulate them.  But the templates are out there. And they fail, over and over, because the template doesn’t select for ability and talent, it selects for a performance.  That performance might be great and tell you little or nothing about how well they can actually do the job.

Great talent may not interview well.  I know that I don’t and I’ve had more than share of them.  And I’ve been told by people  I’ve worked for how well I do my job.  But in an interview I’m always asked the same stupid questions which I fumble.  Unlike a performing monkey I tend to take the question seriously.  Which turns out to be a mistake.  After all my answer is usually not what the answer is supposed to be. After all I’m trying to get a job not have a five year plan working for company who’s office I haven’t spent a full day in.  So I don’t give a pat answer that makes the interviewing manager feel like I’m jumping into the right hoops and the interview goes down.  I used to blame myself for that, which seems to be the point of all too much surrounding the interview process.  If it goes wrong it’s always the candidate’s fault.

Is it the candidate’s fault though?  At least the candidate goes into the interview with an expectation that he or she will get a fair shot.  What is probably more likely is that there will always be a Soviet Judge in the works.   Or some other spoiler.  The big issue is fear, fear of making a mistake.  How many post and pages are out there talking about how much a bad hire costs?

But nobody talks about the hire that worked out great.  It’s as if companies are frozen in the negative.  So they continue the intimidation, crappy processes and watching monkey performances believing they will find the magic talent and purple squirrels that make their place awesome.  The problem with performing monkey is that all they know are circuses.  And while some companies may work like circuses, that doesn’t seem to be the best way to handle business to me.

A big part of the problem is the word “process” in the first place.  You aren’t hiring somebody because of a one day’s performance, you are starting a relationship that you hope lasts for some time.  The problem is that in order to have a good relationship you have to build it on trust.  And making candidates perform like they are in some sort of show is a pretty good clue to we candidates that  trust is not something your organization is long on.  So you get the kind of people that dance and jump through hoops well, but they know that they can’t trust you.  And surprise, the relationship falls apart. Here’s the thing, when the relationship falls apart it takes two to make it not happen and you are as responsible for it as the employee that didn’t work out.

What would be my ideal interview situation.  First of all I would like to start on time.  It seems that all too frequently the hiring manager and the rest didn’t set aside the time properly.  I understand that people get busy, but not being ready is a turn off.  Then maybe before starting I could meet all the people I would be talking to.   Then take me on the Cooks tour.  Show me your stuff and your enthusiasm.  The best way to get a feel for how enthusiastic somebody is about your company is to show how enthusiastic you are about it. After all If I’m trying to show you my best, shouldn’t I see yours?

Look, you put out a lot of effort to attract customers.  You market your products in what you hope is the appropriate places.  You look for new opportunities, explore possible new markets.  You advertise.  You develop new products.  You do these things because you know that, if you don’t, your products will stop selling and you will be out of business. If you are thinking about you think of all your marketing efforts as an investment in the future.

Yet the pattern seems to be try to hire on the lowest common denominator, to hire the average who dance the process correctly.   But a business isn’t a social club or some kind of show, as much as some people seem to want it that way.  It’s supposed to serve it’s customers and create wealth for the investors and entrepreneurs who organized it in the first place.  Unfortunately, That’s lost on the HR types.

The HR types seem to be determined to prove how the hiring process can produce perfect hires regardless of the fact that there is no such thing.  They act under the influence of bureaucratic perfection rather than what’s best for the company.  The typical HR person spends so much trying to exclude people for “diversity” or being “overqualified” or just plain wrong that they can’t find the right people who can get the work done, which is supposed to be the point of the “process.”  In the end both the candidates looking for work lose and the companies lose.  The candidate doesn’t have a job and the company can’t get good people, only performing monkeys and bad hires.  That’s the realty and it’s truly sad.




  1. John Van Stry · January 18, 2016

    The problem with the HR people is that they know NOTHING about the job being hired for, and they have NO idea of what skills are needed. They just like to inject themselves into the process to make themselves feel important. Ideally, HR should have NO PART in the interviews or the hiring decision. All they ever do is screw it all up.
    Humans are NOT ‘resources’, they’re PERSONNEL. And they need to change the name back to that, to reflect the reality, not the dumb idea that people are widgets and can be interchanged like boxes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jccarlton · January 18, 2016

      Watch this space, my next post about that is coming up.


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